Buzzards Bay Report on Bilge Socks 
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Release Date April 13, 2000

Buzzards Bay Action Committee to provide free 'bilge socks' to Buzzards Bay Boaters

The Buzzards Bay Action Committee announced today that it would provide free oil absorbent "bilge socks" to all recreational boaters in Buzzards Bay with bilge compartments. The bilge socks will be purchased as part of a $54,300 grant that the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management awarded to the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, which is a non-profit organization composed of municipal officials from around Buzzards Bay. The Action Committee developed the proposal in partnership with the Buzzards Bay Project National Estuary Program.

The free bilge sock, which is a two foot long 3-inch diameter sausage-like object, is to be placed by boaters in the bilge compartment to capture leaking engine and crank case oil or small fuel spills. For most boaters, a single bilge sock should last an entire boating season. The bilge sock is expected to reduce the oil and fuel sheen sometimes evident on the water around mooring areas and marinas.

Last month, the Town of Dartmouth, which is administering the grant on behalf of area towns and the Action Committee, selected Lakefront Enterprises Inc. of North Hampton, New Hampshire to deliver 9,000 bilge socks. Although more than 12,000 boats may be docked or moored in Buzzards Bay during the summer, probably less than 9,000 of these boats have bilge compartments.

Lakefront Enterprises was one of eleven companies from across the US and Canada that submitted products in response to the Town of Dartmouth's request for bids. Altogether 20 different absorbent bilge socks were submitted to the Town of Dartmouth which conducted a series of tests to evaluate the products. Only three of the twenty devices passed all the tests, which included ability to absorb and retain 1.5 quarts of a diesel-engine oil mixture. All three passing products

were composed of hydrocarbon absorbing polymers that combine with the oil forming an insoluble plastic-like material. Lakefront, whose sock contained a material called "Enviro-bond", was selected because it submitted the lowest bid products passing the test. The report on the bilge sock tests can be found at the Buzzards Bay Project website

Harbor masters will be the primary source for the free bilge socks. A quantity of bilge socks will be given to the citizens group, the Coalition for Buzzards Bay, which is also a partner in the grant. The Coalition will hand out socks from their Baykeeper vessel which will be operational this summer. The Harbormasters will also maintain special disposal barrels for the bilge socks. The grant to the Action Committee includes funds for the disposal of used bilge socks, which can be disposed of at conventional waste to energy facilities like SEMASS.

Len Gonsalves, Executive Director of the Action Committee who has headed up this initiative said, "This grant award has been very well received by the town's harbormasters and shellfish officers. We expect boaters to embrace the program as well, and we think they will be very happy with the product. Although we are supplying boaters with free bilge socks for a single season, once we educate the boating public as to the value of using hydrocarbon absorbing bilge socks, we expect that they will buy their own in future years." The retail cost for the selected type of bilge sock is estimated to be ten to fifteen dollars.

According to Mr. Gonsalves, the free bilge sock is part of a concerted effort by municipalities to address pollution inputs to Buzzards Bay including stormwater discharges and failed septic systems. He noted that area officials have been working on coordinating on oil spill response, and that the Buzzards Bay Action Committee has been promoting state legislation that would empower Buzzards Bay harbormasters to enforce state fueling regulations at marinas, and to also ensure that each marina have available to it oil containment boom should a fueling spill occur.

From the Sentinel Thursday June 29, 2000
Safe Socks
Harbormasters ask boaters to stuff it this summer

By Sarah Corbitt
MPG Newspapers

MARION  The oil sock program has been such a big hit in local waters, area harbormasters don't want it to end. "We've given out over 150 of these," said Marion harbormaster Charles Bradley, holding up a snake-like sock. "We've got over 3,000 boats in this harbor, and we'd like to see one of these on each of them." Wareham waterways are protected by the same amount of oil socks, or bilge socks, as some boaters call them. We've given out about 150 and we've got about 1,000 more to give away," said Gerry Buckminster, assistant harbormaster in Wareham. The program is state-wide, so the socks should also be available in Mattapoisett for the asking. Harbormaster Steven Mach did not return calls. The harbormasters began handing out the free, oil absorbant socks early in the spring supplied by the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

Now that the summer boating season is in full swing, they want to make sure even summer sailors get the word. "All anyone has to do is pick one up, sign the sheet and throw it out when they've used it," Bradley said. In Wareham, Buckminster said they'd like boaters to turn the sock back in at the end of the season, or whenever it gets full, whichever comes first. "Unless you have a problem with your engine, the sock should last a whole season," Buckminster said. The material in the sock turns into a non-hazardous substance when it comes in contact with oil, and can be disposed of in normal trash receptacles. The socks are designed to fit into an engine area and catch leaking oil before it has a chance to hit the water. "They are most effective on inboard or inboard/outboard motors," Buckminster said, "but boats with just outboard motors can use them, too." In Marion, socks are available at Barden's Boatyard, Burr Brothers Boatyard, at the harbormaster's office and at the town hall. In Wareham, boaters can pick them up at the Onset Pier, at the harbormaster's office at town hall, or from one of the patrol boats.
From Coastlines Summer 2000, MCZM Newsletter
Bilge Sock Pilot Project in Buzzards Bay
By Jason Burtner, MCZM

Large-scale disasters involving oil tankers and barges receive international attention, but did you know that these much-publicized disasters account for only a small fraction of the oil that is discharged to coastal waters annually? Oil from road runoff, industrial activities and small but persistent discharges from commercial and recreational vessel bilges account for the majority of oil impacting the marine environment. This chronic discharge of oil is responsible for the rainbow-colored sheen that can be seen in bays and harbors. Cumulatively, this oil can degrade coastal waters impacting sensitive marine organisms, fouling shellfish beds, and discouraging recreation such as swimming.

To address the issue of oil discharges from recreational vessels, the Town of Dartmouth, in partnership with the Buzzards Bay Action Committee (BBAC) and the Buzzards Bay Project(BBP), was awarded $54,300 from the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (MCZM) Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grant Program. This grant will fund the purchase of oil absorbent pillows, also known as "bilge socks", which will be distributed to Buzzards Bay recreational boaters free of charge. The socks capture oil that would otherwise be discharged into the water, thereby reducing pollution. As part of this award, the BBP will develop an educational flyer and outreach material to be distributed with the bilge sock. Harbormasters from Westport, Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, Wareham, Bourne and Falmouth, along with the Coalition for Buzzards Bay vessel Baykeeper, will distribute the bilge socks and flyers this spring. Approximately one dozen recovery stations will be located around the Bay for the collection and disposal of the used bilge socks.

The BBAC partnered with the BBP in order to solicit bids from manufacturers and to

develop and implement a testing process to select the product that best met the projects needs. The BBP designed a performance test to simulate how these products would actually be used in a boat bilge. The bilge sock needed to be able to pass through a 3.5 inch diameter hole so that it could be used in cramped bilge compartments where space or access is limited. The sock would need a rope or lanyard to secure it so that it would not shift and interfere with the function of the bilge pump. The pillow also needed to have the capacity to capture and hold 1.5 quarts of oil without dripping or releasing oil when squeezed, ensuring that no oil is released while the sock is removed for disposal. After testing the bilge socks testers from the BBAC, BBP, local harbormasters, and fire chiefs selected Lakefront Enterprises' trademarked Envirobond. A contract was awarded, and the first set of bilge socks-8,000 to be exact- were delivered in early April, coinciding with the commencement of the recreational boating season.

"One goal of the CPR program is to demonstrate new or innovative technologies to help communities address non-point source pollution issues," said MCZM Director Tom Skinner. "The Town of Dartmouth and the BBAC have done a great job spearheading this bay-wide initiative and effectively involving the other coastal communities. This pilot project will serve as a model for other coastal regions."

For more information on this project, contact the BBAC at (508) 999-1131. If you are a Buzzards Bay recreational boater and would like to receive a complementary bilge sock, contact your local harbormaster or the BBAC at the above number. Report any discharges of oil to the coastal waters of the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at (800) 424-8802. For information on the CPR Grant Program, Call Jason Burtner, CPR Program Coordinator, at (617) 626-1214.


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